Many believe that drug companies should already be updating their vaccines to target mutated versions of the Covid-19 spike protein. But can the patterns of mutations scientists are seeing popping up in Covid-19 around the world offer any clues about how the virus will continue to evolve?
“It is hard to speculate, but it is interesting that all of a sudden there does seem to be a lot of mutations appearing that could be associated with immune escape or immune recognition,” says Brendan Larsen, a PhD student working with Worobey in Arizona. He recently identified a new variant of Covid-19 circulating in Arizona that has the H69/V70 deletion seen in several other versions of the virus. While still only spreading at a relatively low level there and in other states of the US, it suggests that this particular mutation is recurring independently around the world.
Every time the coronavirus passes from person to person it picks up tiny changes to its genetic code, but scientists are starting to notice patterns in how the virus is mutating.